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Chernobyl Tour, Anyone?

Ukraine's oddest tourist attraction

David Jenison  Sep 30, 2009

If you think Auschwitz is an odd tourist destination, then you're going to love the Ukraine's new hot spot. Chernobyl -- home to the worst nuclear disaster in history -- offers tours of the wreckage and the local city evacuated 23 years ago. You should probably bring your own lunch.

Remarkably, Chernobyl has become one of the Ukraine's hottest tourist destinations, and Kiev-based companies are charging between $180 and $250 a head to take tourists to the post-apocalyptic wonderland. A large portion of that money goes to the government, who requires tourists to pay for a "military permit" to enter. Back in the day, $20 got independent travelers a look at the exclusion zone, so apparently the government finally realized they could be cashin' in.

Most tours focus on two main spots. First, people are taken to the reactor itself, which has now been covered over with a massive concrete block.

Remarkably, the station still used the other reactors until about a decade ago when the European Union finally pressured the Ukraine into shutting them down. From here, visitors are transported to Pripyat, a town that once housed about 50,000 workers, but has since turned into ghost town. The last inhabitants were there for two days before the government finally decided to stop covering up the disaster and get these people out of there. Most had to leave everything behind. Today, the football stadium's field has grown a small forest and trees are even cracking through the concrete streets. The total silence is beyond spooky.

Some operators like to play up the danger by getting tourists in radioactive gear, but most places simply bring a Geiger counter that never goes into the red. Then again, do you really want to trust the judgment of the country whose scientists let the reactor blow in the first place? Ah, why not, you didn't want kids anyway.

Ukraine's oddest tourist attraction
Chernobyl / Image via


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